Rio Tinto names finance head Jakob Stausholm as new CEO

Rio Tinto has chosen current chief financial officer Jakob Stausholm as its new CEO, replacing Jean-Sébastien Jacques in the role after he was forced to step down amid widespread condemnation of the miner’s destruction of ancient Aboriginal rock art in Western Australia.

The world’s second largest mining company will be hoping that Stausholm – a Danish national who joined Rio in 2018 – can recover its reputation with the general public and investors following the rock shelter fiasco.

There was a fierce global backlash from the incident, which occurred in June when Rio decided to blast two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal rock shelters at Juukan Gorge while attempting to expand a nearby iron ore mine.

The incident shone a spotlight on an unhealthy internal culture within the company and also triggered a parliamentary inquiry, which recently called on Rio to pay restitution to Indigenous Australians affected by the destruction and to rebuild the sacred site.

In a statement on Thursday, Stausholm recognised the challenge ahead of him and acknowledged ‘the difficult times we have faced during 2020’.

“I am also acutely aware of the need to restore trust with Traditional Owners and our other stakeholders, which I view as a key priority for the company,” Stausholm said.